Many different people and groups have contributed much to the anti-pokies campaign over the last few years and I hope that they all know how important their contribution has been.
Some have been Academics who are good with facts and figures. Some have been from groups who have used the power of networking. Some have been individuals who have been personally affected by the harms that these machines have caused but very few (if any) have been driven by first hand addiction to them.
I say this because a lot is talked about regarding this issue but there has not been very much put out there concerning the real victims - those who never even go near a machine but suffer so greatly because of them.
As an addict of over 30 years being manacled to them, I was the one who caused much damage to loved ones and friends and when the time came that I was ready to stop, I had an epiphany of how much damage I had caused.
Of course , the addict damages themself but being in the grip of this addiction, the addict finds a way to make ends meet. This is usually by lying, manipulation, deception and often, breaking the law.
Everything is pretty much set in place for the addict when they put their hand up. They can get the help they need although more intensive programs and rehabilitation would be great. The addicts are pretty much OUT of the equation until they put their hand up for help. But what of the other victims … ?
When a loved one or friend of the addict is affected by their actions they are nearly always left in a place where even if they can find someone to talk to. They are left holding the bag. They MAY be able to get some financial assistance from NGOs and the like to put food on the table but at the end of the day they are alone when they put their head on the pillow. The adult partner of the addict and their children may share a common grief and other emotions but it is that partner who is truly alone when they put their head on the pillow. A pillow that is so very often stained with tears form the feelings they have that they just cannot resolve.
The responsible adult also has to carry the burden of the heartache the children are enduring and would probably gladly carry that burden especially if it removed that burden from the kids - but they can’t.
The children are not magically spared from the damage just because their parent loves them so much that they would carry this extra weight.
The kids may ask questions about why there are negative financial consequences happening in the house but in nearly every case bottle it all up and remain quiet about how they are feeling. They make up lies to cover why they can’t go on the school excursion or have tomato sauce sandwiches for lunch. They even limit their deserved social interactions for fear that someone will find out that their family is in turmoil.
Eventually, these kids find a coping mechanism that is so often a negative one. As much as they hate the pokies that steal Dad’s money, they more often than not become problem gamblers as well.
I know these things to be true because before i had a problem with gambling i was a victim of the pokies and went through all these difficulties. I came to hate gambling because of the horrible damage it caused within my own family unit.
You might say that these problems lay entirely at the feet of the addict but do they? In the end, yes.
In the meantime, the problems lay at the feet of the other parent, the NGOs who bail them out, friends and family and eventually, society.
Many argue that it is a right to lose your money how you want but we are not talking about the addict’s money - we are talking about the FAMILY’S money. These naysayers respond with ... well it’s the fault of the addict and that the addict has a choice whether to gamble or not. Whilst they are in the grip of their addiction they really do not have a choice. They have been beguiled and entranced by machines that are designed to addict.
They still argue that the addict has a choice. These addicts who are so often very responsible people in every other area of their lives do not say to themselves before they play the machines, “I think i’ll hurt my family today.” This addiction is exactly the same as other addictions in that the addict switches into a mode of fantasy and unrealistic justification.
Despite many attempts at trying to recruit ex-addicts and family members to come forward and put their side of the story out there, it has extremely rarely happened. I know that these loved ones and addicts are suffering with shame and they especially do not want to betray the one who is bringing grief to them despite loving them with all their heart. What a tragic situation that is. It seems that nothing can be done for either the loved ones or the addicts ... but it can.
Getting rid of the pokies is THE solution.
This attitude towards this problem will flow on to other areas in our communities and help us to think about different solutions instead of throwing up this crap about nanny state and choice. I am quite happy to try and educate people but like a lot of others on this side of the debate, i’m not going to entertain fools who just want to argue.
Just one last thing …
This Liberal government is willing to get rid of Ice which causes so much destruction within families even though it is a choice made by the user yet are not willing to do anything about the pokies which has EXACTLY the same dynamics and destruction. I’m sorry but what the $#@% is that all about? It is hypocrisy based on greed. Would a government legalise Ice based on it being a choice the user is allowed to make.
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times by Stephen Menadue ...
*Steve Menadue was addicted to the pokies for over 30 years. “I am now free of them. I am driven to help get rid of these things for those who are still under their spell and especially for those who never go near a machine. This should not be a political argument.” Steve is steve pokiesgone on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=steve%20pokiesgone